Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Remember Not To Forget



Shameless plagiarism is going on here.  For I'm sharing a video posted the other day by my friend Aril at Gnat Bottomed Towers.   We'll be meeting up soon on one of our regular London trips.  I'm looking forward to that.

As mamy of you are aware, people with dementia make up the majority of those that I work with in my role as an occupational therapist in an older adult mental health team.  It is a privilege and indeed, it feels as if I have found one of my niches in life by being alongside them at various stages of their journey .  I am always learning, often very moved by their experiences and stories.

Here Alzheimer's Research UK are asking for money.   But making a financial donation is not the only way you can help.  You can also do your bit for finding ways to beat dementia, of which Alzheimer's disease is just one type,  by signing up to become involved in research  through Join Dementia Research.  Anyone over 18 can sign up  even if they  are not affected because they have a diagnosis or are a carer themselves.  Go on. You'll make my day if you do!

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Things Are Sometimes Not What They Seem

Ha! I've not posted this image with any personal hidden meaning in mind.  Of course there could be one if someone wanted to delve deep into my subconscious. But who the hell would want to be digging around in there? Freakin' hell!  There's enough to be going on with on the top layer.

No, I'm showing you this illustration that shows up in the first couple of pages of  The Little Prince, that classic children's book by Antoine St Exupery just because it's delighted me with its silly cleverness ever since I first clapped eyes on it.   Come to think of it, it's from the only book that I've ever read in a foreign language.   As I was writing this post I realised that I've forgotten the original story.  The bit of my memory that stilll serves me well tells me that it really was rather wonderful even though the detail is gone. Could there be lessons to teach a grown up within? It deserves revisiting.  So I've reserved two copies from the library, both  the English and French versions.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Post Black Friday: A Reflection




'What do you want for Christmas?'  It is a question that stumps me a little.  Thank goodness I've come to arrangements about not swapping gifts with most of the people that I know.  We just feed and make things for each other instead!  For aside from a wardrobe for my spare room, some frames for accumulated prints and posters and maybe a cabin bag that would be rather useful on travels that don't involve the motorhome, I have everything that I want, and need. Many of my friends and family, even our kids, have come to the similar conclusion that they have enough.   Clothes are my only weakness from a consumerist perspective.  I like to look funky and  ring the changes but I'm not a hoarder. When I get fed up with something it gets recycled back to the charity shop from whence it came.  A win-win situation I think.

So Black Friday was a bit of a non event  even though I didn't celebrate Buy Nothing Day instead. I normally have one or two of those each week without even thinking so I don't need that challenge.  I did a grocery shop which yielded rather a lot of those yellow sticker bargains that stock my freezer. Result! And of course, as I mentioned yesterday, I went out for a meal with a friend.  But there was no compulsion to buy stuff just because it was being offered at a knock down price.  I find the idea of accumulating more and more a little overwhelming, and not in a good way.  Clutter in my environment isn't good for my headspace.

Don't get me wrong.  My possessions are life enhancing and I feel abundantly blessed.  The car and motorhome give me freedom, tools for my hobbies allow scope for creativity and the things that we've chosen in our surroundings make our house a much loved home.  But I know that if I lost everything it wouldn't be the end of the world.  After all I've experimented with living with very little,  just a rucksack's worth on my 600 mile jaunt down the  Appalachian Trail.  That made nine months in a 6 x 2 metre motorhome seem positively luxurious.  I know the liberation that making do with just the most carefully chosen possessions can bring.

It's no surprise to me that Matthieu Ricard, a French Buddhist monk who lives a much more simple life that my own, has been given the rather wonderful title of the World's Happiest Man.  I recommend that you follow the link to his website even if it's just to look at his stunning photography. Here's his TED talk where he shares his secret. Actively fostering compassion  is the key.  A lot of us are already converted.   In a world that seems a bit screwy  I'm hopeful that we can show others through our example that there is profound joy to be had by intentionally increasing acts of kindness towards ourselves, others and our planet.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Bristol for Breakfast

I nipped up to Bristol on Friday evening to see Red Mel. It's an onerous task spending time in the city that's been voted the 4th most inspiring in the world but someone's got to do it.  My martyrdom knows no bounds.  Lovelybloke?  Well, he was on call, in a patch that seemingly covers half the Northern hemisphere.  He needs a time machine not a van!  So girl time it was then.

We went to a delightful  restaurant called Pho, one of a chain serving Vietnamese streetfood.  It had everything: gorgeous food with a squid starter to die for, lovely staff,  interesting art, a fascinating building.  And cutlery for when Westerners get arsed off with trying to wrap noodles around a couple of twigs. There were nachos and dirty fries on Saturday lunchtime at the Bristol Brewhouse where we met Red Mel's son, Oli.  It would have been rude not to have tried the beer that's made on the premises too.  We also hit the charity shops in Clifton and ka-ching!  I am the proud owner of three dresses that came in at £19 in total.  No wonder I'd even find shopping in Primark and Peacocks a bit pricy in comparison these days.



Back to the noodles!  I've been meaning to write a post about the weird and wonderful breakfasts that I conjure up for some time now.  Why stick to tea and toast when there's a selection of leftovers in the fridge? Lou's rather partial to a soup based start to the day and was even spotted wolfing down a portion of his very own ribs the other morning. If I'm feeling very naughty I'll go for something sweet.  Homemade trifle recently made for a very successful start to the day.

We ordered too much food at Pho.  Yippee a doggy bag!  My idea of combining our leftovers, stirfried with beaten egg and served with wholemeal bread and butter was a super delicious winner.  This Asian take on scrambled egg made a fine alternative to an English fry up!

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Two Monkeys

Every so often random bags of, what normally turn out to be shite, wend their way from my former marital home.  It happens when Louis' dad clears out the nipper's room and there's stuff that my son can't bear to throw away.  Invariably it  ends up at muggin's house until I have a sneaky declutter.  I think Lou' s only noticed once or twice.  Then again it could be that he's storing up all my misdemeanors reading to sock it to me as to why I am a REALLY BAD parent.

This time the hoard yielded treasure in the form of dear little primates from the past.  Here's the sock monkey that I made Lou years ago.  He features in my third ever tentative blog post.




And though not made with my own fair hands this guy may be the holder of an even more precious memory. Did Louis reward me with his first smile for his difficult Caesarian birth and the hourly milky snacks around the clock for the first few months after he emerged into the world?  Did he heck!  This is  who was the recipient of my son's first ever cheesy grin!

Friday, 25 November 2016

Inner Children

Photo:  Bored Panda

I like to think that artists create with the aim of touching something deep in the inner core of others. Sometimes I'll  use my blog to 'show and tell' visual art that has done just that for me, succinctly bringing alive metaphor.  Even with all its richness, the written form cannot do justice to some ideas.

Here's a beautiful piece that meets that remit, an installation at the 2015 'Burning Man' festival by Ukranian artist Alexander Milov. You, my lovely readers, are not stupid.  I'll therefore leave this with you so it can talk wordlessly about those little peeps within.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Posh Mad Wrist

At the end of summer, with the fake tattoo  from WaterAid long gone, I reluctantly gave up the wacky wrist adornments collected over a season of festivals and trips away in my hippy-ish van.   My lower left arm lost its bohemian air and became minimalist and  grown up again. Boring!

So I dug around in the drawer that contains my jewels and was reunited with a whole host of pretty bracelets that had rarely been worn singularly as they didn't make enough of a statement in their own right.  And anyone who knows me will probably agree I'm not a fade into the background type of person.  I started to play and came up with 'Mad Wrist 2' - posh style.  After all there's sterling silver  and lovely bits of Venetian glass in this version.

As with the fistful of rings on my right hand, I wonder if the extra weight on my wrist  has improved proprioception by giving me a better idea of where my hand is.  Okay there has been one glass of split wine recently but this is nothing when compared to the usual litany of accidents caused by clumsiness.  So much prettier than weighted wristbands that are supposed to have the same effect!


Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Introducing The Oldies

With the intensity of the wanderlust that courses through my veins, it's terribly rare for me to have a week off work and holiday at home but I'm doing that this week.    And why ever should I not spend time enjoying the place that I live which is  after all, one of the most wonderful tourist destinations in the country? I will not make any excuses for my bias!  It's over a year since I moved to Brixham . Yet I still can't suppress smiles when I walk just a teeny distance and look out across the ever changing sea, dark and moody on Monday, flat calm and silvery yesterday for instance.  Maybe the wonderment will never go.

Mainly,  I've taken leave to spend a bit of time with Mama and Papa Lovelygrey,  my mum and dad who're visiting me for the first time in my new-ish home.   It's been the toughest of years for them and I wanted to give them a break.   We're not going far. Pottering around town with occasional breaks for coffee and cake feature heavily in the itinerary.    Yesterday we ended up at the lighthouse at the end of the Breakwater and took this photo to mark the event.  It captures special times. I think  it turned out rather well!

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Thrift By Stealth - Part 2

Let's have another one of those posts about penny pinching under the radar shall we?  Shhhh!  No-one will ever know.  I thought that I'd make this a three part series.  This is the second of two posts will about some of the practical steps that I take to keep my spending down and stay within budgt without appearing like a skinflint.   Here's the first if you missed it last week.

Homemaking

It doesn't pay to be a fashion victim as far as making a house a home goes.   I've aimed to kit out my living space only once in this lifetime.  Honestly some people seem to change their sofa as often as their knickers! I'm wondering if there's something here about not trying to achieve a certain 'look' that's in vogue.  An eclectic mix of stuff from all different periods seems to laugh in the face of time.  Ha!   Ebay and again, the charity shops were my friends when I've sourced stuff.  This link gives a little reminder of my personal style when it comes to interior decor.

I eschew the cheap and cheerful in favour of more lasting items.  Sometimes that can be expensive but it isn't nearly always isn't the case. I wouldn't part with the eye test lamp rescued from the hospital where I work even if it was a freebie.  The retro chair swapped for a pile of wood is a keeper too.  

So what else?  Well there's the boring stuff about doing maintenance when it's needed - a stitch in time and all that.  There's also something about preventing the need to declutter in the first place by controlling what comes into the house in the first place.  Duh!  Aside from a few frames for pictures and a wardrobe for the spare room I've reached the point where there's little else I want or need.

Beauty

Important principles here save me a fortune without any outlay at all. Yay!  I have become comfortable with who I am and what I look like.  'Bien dans ma peau' as the French say.    Yes,  I have a big tummy, wrinkly bits and grey hair that I know a few hairdressers out there would like to cover up. I'm over fifty for goodness sake!  There's also a lot to be said for cultivating beauty that goes beyond skin deep.  At the end of the day what I do, say and think is more important than appearance.  That means that there'll be no botox or expensive surgical procedure.  I'll grow old with grace.

My main money saving tip is that I buy very few toiletries and beauty products.  I'm not tempted by all those rows of lotions and potions. Apart from  a penchant for posh soaps and expensive perfume, I stick to the basics.  Cruelty free has become an important mantra but this does not have to be expensive.  The Lacura eyebrow pencil and concealer that are intermittently stocked by Aldi have not been tested on unsuspecting bunnies and are £2.99 apiece.  Oh and I give myself home haircuts and even do the back myself these days. That saves a pretty penny.

Kids

Freakin' expensive little buggers who frequently lack impulse control when it comes to spending. Fear not! The stealthy parent can cut costs.   Keeping to a budget at Christmas and birthdays,  seeking out free activities rather than forking out on expensive attractions,  eschewing designer clothes and fuelling excitement in finding a secondhand bargain at an early stage all help.   Most importantly I habitually  say 'no' and 'we can't afford this'.

Bills

I shop around, get new quotes regularly, make sure that I know what I'm buying by reading the small print and use credit wisely.  I try not to waste fuel or water and even make a bit of a game of finding ways of cutting consumption further - without anyone noticing a thing.  Last week's chimney stuffing exercise brought joy to my heart.

Leisure

Most of the things that I love to do are free or cheap.  They do not demand constant outlay.  Books come from the library, are swapped with friends or gleaned from cheap secondhand sources.  I prefer to walk, run, cycle and swim  in nature rather than in an expensive health club.  Writing costs nothing and my other creative outlets do not require shedloads of expensive materials that need topping up all the time.  I love to forage, beachcomb  and litter pick.  The search for that elusive sea urchin shell is still on.  Are you getting the idea?

In my final post I'll move away from the practicalities of stealthy thrifting and think about the personal philosophy that guides my saving and spending.

Monday, 21 November 2016

Death of This Ladies' Man




Here's the last interview that Leonard Cohen gave.  His humility and compassion shine through when he speaks, the antithesis of what it means to be famous in today's world.  The extent to which people identified him with me has been a true surprise.  For after all I wasn't obsessive about my fandom. At both concerts that I had the privilege to see my knickers stayed firmly on my arse and were not hurled at the stage.  I never had a one to one chat and didn't festoon him with daily fan mail.  Yet many, even my ex-husband expressed personal condolences for someone that I'd never met.  I phoned to talk about Louis. 'I'm sorry that your man died' he said. Wow!

The tag line from my blog is, of course, a quote from this dear gentleman, words that spurred personal transformation. Indeed they provided the motivation for sharing my imperfect writing through this medium.

'Forget your perfect offering.  There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in.'

'Walk away from paralysis of perfection. It has stifled your creativity and undermined your sense of self.' Leonard counselled.  He seemed to be speaking to me personally.  He went on.  'Instead, why not strike out, experiment and embrace making mistakes as part of the process of enlightenment?' A penny dropped and I found liberation through acceptance of vulnerability.  It's no wonder then that I speak about this man, who I count among the wisest of my teachers, with the kind of affection that denotes a personal affinity.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

The Demise of Mabel

The CQC inspectors are coming!  For those that aren't in the know these are the people who regulate care services, including the NHS, in the UK.  They make sure we're properly looking after the people that we serve.   And quite right too.  As part of the preparations for their visit our office is having a spruce up.

Here's a wonky shot of a card depicting Mabel who decorated the pinboard next to my desk.  No knitting and back episodes of 'Come Dine With Me'  on daytime TV for her!  I thought that she was a fine example of someone casting all those ageist stereotypes of what old women do to the wind. However, with a new found perspective on the way things need to be Boss Man  begs to differ. He'd been to a meeting where he'd been urged to purge the working environment before the inspectors' impending visit.  With his fresh eyes he viewed my wall art dimly. Apparently it falls firmly into the category of 'seaside postcard type humour'  which is now a no-no. 'Get rid of Mabel.' he ordered.  I've obeyed and alas, she is no more. I'll miss her though. She's made me smile for a long time.



Saturday, 19 November 2016

Q&A: Me


The Guardian has a column where a 'famous' person is asked a set of questions.   How come I've never heard of so many people? I must have my head buried somewhere.  Anyway I thought that I'd have a go at answering the latest set myself

What is your greatest fear?  I try not to have one.    Fear is so debilitating.  There's often a flutter of anxiety but I'm at a stage where I  step out  where I have to go and cope with what life throws at me.
Which living person do you most admire?   I can't name a specific person but it has to be some of the carers I've encountered who've looked after their distressed loved ones with dementia with so much compassion, patience and selflessness.  They are truly astonishing and I honour them.
Which is the trait most deplorable in yourself?   Struggling to finish what I've started.
What was your most embarrassing moment?  Slapping my new boss's arse with a rolled up tax return whilst yelling 'Stop reading the paper cheeky!!'  I'd mistaken his posterior for that of a much better acquainted friend who'd have found it funny.  I went mute at work for days with shame and my new colleague didn't travel in the lift with me for the first six months. We became friends though once he worked out that I wasn't a sex pest.
Aside from a property, what's the most expensive thing you've bought?  Klaus the Knaus, my lovely motorhome.
Your most treasured possession:   Klaus, of course.  Money well spent!
What is your screensaver:  Two people scaling a massive rock face.
Who would play you in a film of your life?  Ruby Wax
What's your favourite smell?  Coco Noir by Chanel.  It's such a shame that I gave up buying it for ethical reasons.  I still haven't found a cruelty free perfume that I love as much.
What's your favourite word?  Lovely
Which book changed your life?  'Overcoming low self-esteem' by Melanie Fennell.  An advert for cognitive behavioural therapy if ever there was one.
What or who is the greatest love of your life? My son who taught me that motherhood can bring such immense joy.
What does love feel like?    Ah let's quote Mumford & Sons.  Love will not betray you, dismay or enslave you, it will set you free.  I think that sums it up.
What do you owe your parents? Time: They might be getting this back now that they're older and I'm less selfish.
What did you want to be when you grew up?  I didn't know.  That was the problem. It made for very unfocused years in my teens and twenties.
To whom would you most like to say sorry and why?  Not sure.  I try to say sorry as I'm going along.
Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?  Those I love from all around the world. And the spirit of Leonard Cohen.  You're allowed a dead person aren't you?
Which word or phrase do you most overuse?  Mate, oh and f*k.  I probably swear a bit too much for some people's liking.
What's the worst job you've ever done?   Production line at the Matchbox toy factory.  I printed the design on the side of about quarter of a million little toffee vans.
If you could go back in time, where would you go?  The Appalachian Trail 1997.  I made the choice to stop but I would continue the journey.  That's ignoring the effect on the space-time continuum of doing this of course.
How often do you have sex?  A lady doesn't tell!
What single thing would improve the quality of your life?  Giving up a 9-5 job.  It's just that a need for that money stuff gets in the way.
What do you consider your greatest achievement? The person that I've come to be and who is still evolving.

Friday, 18 November 2016

Lazy Mene


Today is Thursday and I'm scheduling ahead...quickly.  You'll see this post tomorrow when it will be my last day of work before a bit of  annual leave.  For the next thirty six hours and maybe beyond I'll be busy, busy, busy catching up with paperwork.  It's always the way. Oh to take a bit of holiday without running around like a headless chicken first!

So here's a little something that popped up on that most popular of social media sights.  I'm being lazy but no matter.  It's speaks of a lesson that I think I've already taken on board.  Maybe these words may be just what someone out, who doesn't know what they're striving for, needs.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Beard First

After moving into my house last winter I found out it was freakin' cold here during winter.  Those chill winds nip off the sea. If you look back to my post when I first bought my home you'll see that the downstairs living area compromising of an open plan kitchen, dining room, lounge and sun room is spacious. Yet there's only two radiators that were working overtime without significant effect.  Poor little Mr Metrosexual , who is a bit of a Walter Softy, used to come round and keep his woolly head and scarf on.  So what would help keep me, my family and friends more comfortable?  Lighting fires in those open hearths?  More radiators?   Even more blankets?  A little woodburner? -  being a bit girlie I fancied a  pretty little baby blue one.

For advice I turned to Lovelybloke.  After all he manages power plants.  His response was surprising.  'I've got just the thing.' he said and loaded my car with two big bags of soft toy stuffing material from his garage.  'Now stick this up your chimneys.'  I have four of them, two downstairs and two in the main bedrooms.  Louis threw himself into the project with gusto.  It's surprising sometimes what will grab a teenager's attention.
So we filled bin liner after bin liner with fluff.  Given that a kid was helping my house took on the appearance of the Battle of the Somme - teddy bear version!  I gave the bags a helpful push by sticking my feet up the chimneys.  Goodness knows what anyone would have thought if they'd seen me.  I was a bit too enthusiastic at one time and a bag burst.  It looked as if Santa had arrived early, head first.  He'll have problems bringing presents by the conventional route now.  My flues are well and truly stuffed.   Does that sound rude to anyone else or is my mind just particularly filthy?

Has it worked?  Blinkin' heck, yes indeed.  Immediately my house warmed up and now retains heat.  With the thermostat at its usual temperature it's actually a bit too hot and I had to shed a cardie.  Unheard of!

Apparently with open chimneys escaping  air has to be replaced about twenty times an hour.  If my memory serves me okay, which is doesn't always because I'm menopausal, Lovelybloke says that this figure has now been cut down to about twice hourly.  I'm no longer heating air that immediately gets channeled outside.  This will save on heating bills and keep us toastie warm.  A rather brilliant result indeed!



Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Adult Space?

Ah! Another shot of my beautiful bedroom that I showed off earlier in the year.  It's still in need of that lick of paint but there's no rush.  Over the months it's definitely become my favourite room in the house. Like a teenager I often hole myself up here rather than using the family space downstairs.  But has it really become my sacred space, a child-free sanctuary where I can be alone in peace to gather my thoughts at the end of a  hard working day?





Nope.  Apparently not!  Here's Louis post bathtime.  His feet are way bigger than my own now.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Thrift By Stealth - Part 1

Something dawned on me a little while ago.  My current income  as a single parent is about £10K per annum less  than it was  nearly twenty years ago when I lived in a house where two professionals contributed to a household budget. There was no child then either. They're expensive little buggers.   It's no wonder that I have to work really hard to keep things on an even keel financially but I just about do it - and sometimes gain a bit of admiration about my monetary wizardry.  I can make those pounds stretch!  This is not Ebenezer Scrooge stuff either.   No-one would know that I'm penny pinching.

Here's a round up of some of the things in my role as a stealthy thrifter.  I'm making this up as I go along and they'll probably be few things that I haven't spoken about before.   I'll keep writing until 6:30 when I have to get Lou up but something tells me that this post will need more than one visit.

Car

Some might have thought that I chose Leif, my little green Citigo because he looked funky but my primary goal was to save money.  I  do a lot of miles each year in my business and personal life so he needs to be reliable.  I have a personal rather than the more expensive NHS lease,  My choice of an eco-friendly car was deliberate in terms of the savings to be had on fuel and running costs.  I eco-drive except when I fancy letting my hair down.  And I make every journey count by doubling, tripling, even making them quadruple purpose if I can.  Oh, and parking.  I try not to pay for it ever on a day to day basis.

Food

We eat like kings here and no-one would ever know that there's been skimping involved.  There's lots of secret ways of cutting a bob or too here:  Yellow stickers, choosing where I shop from, batch cooking and freezing, foraging, making own packed lunches, cooking from scratch rather than using pre-prepared ingredients, limiting eating out  and  doggy bags when we do......

Clothes

The charity shop is my friend.  Occasionally Ebay comes up trumps and there's the occasional new bit of kit, normally from George at Asda.  What I look for when I buy new are clothes where the fit, fabric and design give them an air of being far more expensive than their actual cost.

I don't have a massive wardrobe.  Okay blokes might beg to differ but it's not so in girlie terms.  In buying anything, even if it costs a fiver from the chazzer, I think in terms of how many wears I'm going to get out of that particular item.

So what else?  Well I wear leggings instead of tights, mend stuff to get extra wears and I buy good quality footwear. More expensive initially, even when discounted but this is an area where paying a bit extra upfront means savings over the long run.

Travel

Maybe those Romany genes mean that this is an essential rather than a luxury.  So how's it done on that solitary income.  Well I plan ahead and try to get the best deals on flights and ferry costs.  My membership of Brittany Ferries Travel Club has saved me thousands of pounds over the years.  My friends, family and I have had really good times when we're away and so many good memories are laid down.  But there's no fancy new holiday wardrobes,  the scales tip towards free activities rather than expensive attractions and eating out is limited in favour of fun outdoor eating.

There you go!  I've run out of time.   Maybe this topic needs a revisit in a few days?

Monday, 14 November 2016

A Hare-y One

My fondness for hares preceded the arrival in our home of the children's book, Guess How Much I Love You  which has become a bit of a classic.  It was one of Louis' favourites when he was wee.  He often tried to outdo Little Nutbrown Hare in defining the extent of his love for me in terms of return trips to the furthest parts of outer space....and then I bettered him as he was falling asleep.  Many parents out there will know the score.  It's why I have that pinky ring inscribed with 'Love you to the moon and back'.  It the one that I have to pretend is a gift from Lou. He says that he would have bought it for me if he hadn't forgotten his money!

Additonally a moon gazing hare sits in my hearth, probably a good place for a creature of such mythological significance.  And of course, there is that semi-completed linoprint inspired by the ear sharing beasties that are dotted around Devon churches.  It would be good if I got my arse in gear there.  To gee me along let me share the wonderful hares that I was so glad to find in Lovelybloke's house.  A little internet research revealed that they were moulded from cold cast bronze by East Anglian artist Carl Newman.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

A Different Run

This is me!!!! My prowess in running is coming on leaps and bounds albeit teeny ones.  A little jog around the streets of my hometown three times weekly has become part of my normal  routine.   I still use the soundtrack from Week 9 of Couch to 5K to jolly me along on weekdays. Then at weekends I extend the distance I run, pacing myself with music that is much less upbeat than you'd expect a jogger to be listening to.  Think my usual indie  folk rather than technopop.  It helps me  keep to a speed where I complete the course rather than ending up in a quivering heap on the pavement halfway round.

While I'm in Somerset is it possible to  have a little rest from my exercise routine? Can I hell!  Lovelybloke has taken on the role of coach with gusto. Bless, he's planned routes for me in the lanes around his Somerset home.  And  he comes with me, probably because he's worked out that my sense of direction is awful, and that I could be missing for three days if I went alone.  He insists he's not built for running so cycles alongside.  I warned him that if he was going to get all Sargeant Major-y and bark orders from a megaphone I'd send him back home anyway.  But it's not like that. He's been gently encouraging and doesn't take the piss like Mr Metrosexual and Ruff Stu who tell me that I run like a crab.

It's refreshing t o be exercising somewhere different.  There's a beautiful new visual landscape to take in on my circuit here.  But I found it's  harder psychologically.  Something about not knowing the route here affected my stamina on my first trip out.  I felt that I had to break my running with a little walk a couple of times.  It was silly but I feared not finishing a course that is actually shorter than the one that I usually do at home.   So maybe I should step out of the comfort zone of routine a little more and plan some circuits away from my usual one a little more often. It could be time for one of those Parkruns one weekend very soon.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Lovely Here

There are many places on earth that are good for the soul.  I am lucky enough to live in one.  As I step from my door, within a minute can be staring at the ever changing sea, always restorative even on the days when the water is dark and brooding.  Even though Lou is perfectly capable of getting to the bus stop himself in the morning  I haven't stopped wandering over with him so I get an early glimpse of the view of Brixham harbour and beyondI still can't quite believe my good fortune but perhaps I shouldn't be pinching myself so hard.  For maybe luck is something that you have rather a big hand in making for yourself.

I've sneaked away from Devon this weekend to Lovelybloke's house.  Here's the frosty view from his window that I captured yesterday. He lives in a cracking place too. Apparently  the  fields are full of daffodils in the spring which are replaced by a wildflower meadow in the summer. Deer wander around right here in front of his cottage but they haven't shown themselves to me yet.  Maybe they're in hiding.   I have seen a very happy squirrel though who bounced across the grass.  And why wouldn't he be perky?  It's really rather special here for humans and the wildlife.  I could gaze out of thewindows for hours.

Friday, 11 November 2016

RIP Leonard Of Course




My regulars won't be surprised that there's been early morning tears for the second time this week as the news of Leonard's Cohen's death has reached me.  I gain wisdom, solace and emotional liaison through the beautiful gift of music.  This dear man has been my companion for over a quarter century holding my hand through good and bad times.  Rest in peace sweetly Leonard with my other loved ones.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Salt and Bubbles

The Second Martha Stewart loves beurre caramel salĂ©.  That's salty caramel sauce to you anglophones.  I try to remember to bring her some back from Brittany whenever I go. But on my trip this summer I forgot. I can be a dippy mare at times but am self forgiving.  There's only so much stuff that a person can hold in their hand.

'How difficult can it be to make my own version?'  I thought.  After all I'm a proud owner of a ne'er used sugar thermometer.   It should probably be decluttered but looks dead posey in that wheelie carousel utensil thing that sits by my hob.

I popped into Sainsbury's and bought a squat Kilner jar and then I filled it with my own caramel sauce, flavoured with Maldon Sea Salt of course as I am an Essex girl.  Easy peasy.   That sugar thermometer remained redundant still.   The recipe came from the Guardian's column where they cobble together the instructions for perfect recipes. The bubbly picture above shows the water droplets which formed on the sugar as it caramelised.  I've never seen anything quite like it during a cookery process.  It was dead cool!

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Woke Early


A little piece of you
The little peace in me
 Will die (This is not a miracle) 
For this is not America

Insomnia took hold as a consequence of the US election. So I thought I'd blog about something light and frou-frou.  You know me, I'm usually perky.   We'd spent the evening with the Second Martha Stewart  and her husband at a wonderful French restaurant in Exmouth, sharing  hopes that an intelligent woman would be in the White House of their homeland today.  It seems that this is not to be.

My sister was so fearful of what was happening in the world.  She fretted much.  At the hospice, we'd joked darkly that at least by dying she wouldn't see Trump as US President.  I didn't think that this could possibly come true.  For American friends are among my nearest and dearest, compassionate people who have integrity and a sense of justice.   They are better than that.

I believe that I've woken to a worse world and have wept tears.  Maybe now us little peeps have to work harder to shine our light in the darkness.  So be extra kind.  Look out for each other and our precious earth.   Make good memories, create loveliness and laughter.    Speak out and take action when you hear and see things that you don't like.   For we have to keep the faith that through our little actions that love and peace will eventually prevail.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Treasure Among Trash

The wind has swung away from its usual westerly direction and whoosh!  Rubbish that would normally be washed out to sea has been depositied  in vast quantities on the beaches around here. A friend from the Devon Wild Swimming group is trying to get people together for a clean up at St Mary's Bay at the weekend. But I already have plans that don't include anyone but me and Lovelybloke. The rest of the week looks busy too.  So I decided to do my bit for our ravaged marine environment by hitting my local cove yesterday.  I could only be there between when  I wave goodbye to Louis at the bus stop and the time I head off down the road to work. Could a few minutes of effort make any difference?

Yes!  Here's the booty from twenty minutes work.  Two bin bags full and a weird set of table legs. I'm sure they could be upcycled by someone with the inclination and imagination. There were a few items too that weren't destined for the bin. Barbie Nurse is very pleased with the tennis balls for her dog Lola.  Louis is the owner of a rather wacky rubber duck.  And as just reward for that frenzied litter picking I get an unopened can of cider. I like to think that it fell off a passing pirate ship!

Monday, 7 November 2016

What a Guy!

This is Baxter, the doggy companion of Ruff Stu and Mr. Metrosexual.  He's one of my animal chums and knows that he can expect  a hearty scratch just in front of his tail when I see him.  I know exactly which spot to hit!  A few years back someone grassed him up, tests were done and it was discovered that he's about a millionth part pit bull terrier.  So he has the canine equivalent of an ASBO and a tattoo to prove it.  As such he's subject to all sorts of rules like being muzzled and on a lead at all times when he's out.  But he's the gentlest of souls and I can't really believe that he'd hurt a fly.

Sam the Beard and Nursey Mike are fairly recent acquaintances who we got to know after Ruff Stu knocked Nursey Mike off his bike. Sometimes I think that if someone were to write a biography of my life it would be rejected on the grounds of being totally implausible.   My new-ish friends are fond of Baxter too and he sometimes stay with them. On a recent  holiday to the States they brought back a topical dog toy.  You'd think that Baxter would jump at the opportunity to grab Donald Trump by the throat and give him a proper good shaking.   But not a bit of it.  Quite sensibly, he was terrified and refused to go anywhere near his basket when Donald took up residence there.




Apparently I'm not allowed to tag Louis on Facebook anymore for hanging out with me goes off the Richter scale when it comes to uncoolness. And there was I thinking I was the type of funky mother that a son could be proud of. But for Donald he made an exception.   Apparently being pictured with a cuddly politician is the height of street cred.  The mind of a small boy is an unfathomable thing

Now Louis was quite prepared to take Donald off Baxter's hands. However his repeated attempts at begging to secure ownership fell on deaf ears. For plans had already been made to alleviate Baxter's distress by 'repurposing' Donald.










Sam the Beard and Nursey Mike had a fireworks party on the 5th November.   Traditional has it that a lumpen image of the perpetrator of the Gunpowder Plot has to be rustled up.  He is fashioned out of pairs of old tights stuffed with newspaper, dressed in old clothes and then burned on the bonfire.  But my friends are busy blokes who don't have time for that nonsense. After all they had perfect pulled pork to prepare.  So what to do? You have to have a guy.

It wasn't an accident that Donald ended up back in Sam and Mike's possession that night.  His demise had been orchestrated in advance. Baxter has no need to be frightened any more. For his old adversary, who turned out to be exceedingly flammable, made a very dapper substitute for  Guy Fawkes indeed!

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Days Out In Somerset: Fleet Air Arm Museum




 If I'm going to a museum or gallery my personal preference is for a bit of art or a really thought provoking exhibit.  Like that Happy Show that we were privileged to see in Vancouver last year. But as the mother of a boy there are compromises to be made. It's not uncommon for me to end up in places with a distinctly blokey feel.  And so it was yesterday that we trawled up at the Fleet Air Arm Museum near Yeovil.   Here's one of the first exhibits we saw, a cloth aeroplane loaded with missiles.  What could possibly go wrong?



And the winner of the BF naming competition is Sol from Be Sol Be! I took Lovelybloke along for moral support as he lives nearby.  You nosey lot wanted a photo.  Well here he is 'flying' a helicopter with Louis.
Maybe he's shy?



The museum consists of four large halls telling the story of naval aviation.  So you've guessed it there are rather a lot of aeroplanes.  To be honest the way that many of the exhibits are presented is a bit dated. It seemed like the museum needs a good spruce up to bring it up to 21st century standards.  We enjoyed our virtual trip on an aircraft carrier but were a little perturbed by the wiggy mannequins.  They definitely could have done with new heads of hair.  And it was dark in there. That's why all my photos came out a bit yellowy.  Tucked away in a corner was some stuff about female aviators.  I've only included Valentina Tereshkova here as Louis has named one of his two hamsters after her.  They are Russian after all.







The pride of the collection has to be Concorde.  It's the only thing I remember from a previous visit on a summer holiday trip when I was a teenager.  It's rather sad that this wonderful plane isn't in service any more as it's magnificent.





Here's Lou fiddling with controls.  It's got  to be done in these types of places.




And me flying a plane in a low tech kind of way.  See what I mean about that update?



Oh okay then.  Let's get on with it.  I'm sure I'm supposed to be coming up with some incredible facts about aircraft that land on boats. But it's really not my bag.  Instead here's Lovelybloke because I know that those who frequent my little  corner of Blogland are dying to see him.   Yes, that's definitely a good name for him. He's funny and smiley!


Saturday, 5 November 2016

Fall

Ah my bloggy friends in America.  Your use of language can be bizarre to us in Blighty and, let's be honest, sometime plain wrong.  Take all those parts of cars where you must have decided to fiddle about with perfectly good British names.  A trunk is a big box that kids take to boarding schools like Hogwarts, not the storage space in the back of the car.  That's the boot and it's not at all strange that it has the same name as an item of footwear.   An eggplant does not bear any resemblence to anything that comes out of  the back of a chicken. It would be a very sick bird if it laid something like that.

But although autumn is a fine word in itself I do love the fact that you call this season 'fall'.  It's so simplistic and but beautifully sums up the nature of this time of year.

My lovely work colleagues and I are blessed with this beautiful tree outside our office window.   All of us, apart from our team leader have revelled in its beauty.  He is nonplussed and we told him that he has no soul. I took a picture of it the other day when the sun was shining and the light quality was better.  But alas it was rather spoilt by a reflection of my Galaxy Note. So you'll have to make do with this image that was taken twenty four hours on.  The day was gloomy and with each gust of wind leaves cascaded to the ground.  I reckon it will be bare next week.








On another theme I urged you all to 'look down' the other day.  I did so when I was taking my pictures yesterday and thought the leaves carpetting the path were wonderful.  It was like confetti for giants, a mosaic of colour that brightened up a normally boring path.  Yes I will reiterate.  'Fall' is a fine word here!

Friday, 4 November 2016

Big Town, Little Town Plastic Bans

The sale of plastic bottles is going to be phased out in San Francisco. Wonderful news!   Here at home the town of Modbury have done their bit to curb pollution and waste.  For nearly ten years  this little town, which  is in my working patch, has been plastic bag free.  Of course that doesn't mean that you won't see someone walking down the street with a Tesco carrier. Duh!  They're not going to be shot at dawn for doing so.  This is rural Devon after all.  No, what it means is that none of the town's traders give out plastic bags.  Shoppers are offered biodegradable or cloth ones instead.  The people here are so proud of their green achievement that they announce it on their town sign.  Perhaps San Fran will be able do the same in years to come.

A trip through Modbury is an alternative to negotiating that route between Ivybridge and Kingsbridge which has a bit of a tendency to clog up.  I'll be going that way a  bit more often from now on.  For Salty Dog has given me a tip off.  The town is also home to the best charity shop in the world.  It's posh around those parts.  Hence the Rowcroft Hospice shop is full of barely worn clothes that rich people don't want anymore. Just the excuse for a little detour!

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Tea For The Aliens

I've made my sense of awe and wonder about space quite clear in the past. Maybe it's because its incredible vastness makes my own complexity as a teeny tiny inhabitant of the cosmos seem even more utterly miraculous?   So it was with great excitement that I read an article in The Independent which reports that unusual messages emanating from a tiny fraction of the  stars in the sky are probably the work of extra-terrestials trying to get in touch with us.  Yay!

So this begs the question.  What are they trying to say?   I'd like to think that aeons of evolution means that malice had been bred out of them.  How would they have survived if they were fighty?  What they may be asking is for someone to put the kettle ready for their visit.  For they've heard that a cuppa from Planet Earth is a truly fine thing!

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

A Little List - Deux

Remember on our summer holiday that I picked up someone's list that was masquerading as rubbish?  What a fascinating insight into someone's personal gastronomie.  Well, the other day I came across a different scrappetty list that I'd created myself.  It brought back such wonderful memories that I thought I'd pop it on my memo board for posterity.  And share it here of course because it's a sweet little story.

It was made during our trip to Yellowstone last year on a bit of paper torn from our car rental paperwork.  Compiling a list of the 51 States of America was pretty challenging for a couple of Brits in a campground that was devoid of Wi-Fi signal. Even though we couldn't cheat we got there in the end.  Phew!  Then, as we travelled around the National Park, Louis ran off in the parking lots and ticked off all the states that he found displayed on the car number plates.  He even added a few more from neighbouring Canada. It was a surprisingly absorbing, nay obsessional pastime and lovely to see him so occupied.

So how many did he get?  Well he did surprisingly well and the final count was forty eight.  Only Rhode Island, Delaware and Hawaii eluded him.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Tracks

I talked about how young Leonard's lyrics 'stopped me in my tracks' the other day.  And it is so often that language has this effect.   Boom! I'm overwhelmed by its power.  Sticks and stones breaking bones and words never hurting?   I don't think so.  No wonder don Miguel Ruiz refers to using words in terms of weaving magic and casting spells.  Best be careful then and treat them with awe and wonder.

Reiki Ray dropped a DVD on my coffee table a couple of months ago.  For a bloke who looks like he's up for a Friday night fight he's surprising in touch with his feminine side.  'Ere doll.' he said. 'Watch this with your girlies when you get together.  It's a bloody lovely chick flick.'  And so it was that the film 'Under the Tuscan Sun' introduced me to Frances Mayes.  I haven't read any of her books yet but perhaps a couple need to be added to  pile on my next trip away.  I've already shared one quote. Here's a second, a blinder of a metaphor, another track stopper, and this one is about tracks!

'They say they built the train tracks over the Alps, between Vienna and Venice, before there was a train that could make the trip. They built it anyway. They knew one day the train would come.'